Rost: The supremely weird Seahawks strike again to preserve perfect record
The Seahawks are a weird team.
Weird not because they buck trends and tradition – though in some ways they do – but because they’ve found a way to pull a win out of some truly confounding performances.
There’s the controversial “Fail Mary” finish and a shocking comeback in the NFC Championship in Jaunary 2015, and they’ve even inspired an entire Wall Street Journal feature on their craziest swings in win probability.
Add Sunday night’s win over the Vikings to the growing list of strange and fantastic wins.
The Seahawks have been sitting near the top of the league in points scored through four weeks but couldn’t get on the board by the close of the first half against a one-win Vikings team. (Minnesota is a better team than its record would indicate, but it’s still banged up on defense, playing without defensive linemen Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr.) The Vikings had pulled ahead to a 13-0 lead entering the third quarter and Dalvin Cook was running all over a defense that had previously held offenses to well under 100 rushing yards per game.
That changed in the third quarter. Cook left the game with a groin injury and did not return. Then, in a span of less than two minutes, Seattle scored an improbable three touchdowns. The first was a 19-yard pass to tight end Will Dissly on Seattle’s opening drive. The next two came after Vikings turnovers. Two plays after defensive end Damontre Moore forced a Kirk Cousins fumble that was recovered by linebacker K.J. Wright, Wilson found wide receiver DK Metcalf for another score. On the next drive, Wright picked off a Cousins pass and running back Chris Carson sprinted into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown on the very next play from scrimmage.
Cousins and the Vikings responded with a pair of touchdowns to wide receiver Adam Thielen, which was unfortunate timing for the Seahawks, who fell back into struggles on both sides of the ball. Minnesota was outgaining Seattle in nearly every statistical category – total yards, first downs, third-down conversions. In fact, the Seahawks failed to convert a single third down entering the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
That stat never actually improved. Seattle finished the game 0 for 7 on third down conversions.
But in the end, it didn’t matter – two fourth downs proved to be enough for Wilson.
After the defense got a stop to save a chance to win the game, Wilson took over with less than two minutes remaining and marched down the field. That drive required not one but two successful fourth-down conversions. Wilson turned to Metcalf on both; the first was a dramatic 39-yard pass on fourth-and-10, while the second was for the game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining. The defense forced another fumble as time expired and, just like that, Seattle improved to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
“I believe this is one of the top three or four most impressive things I’ve seen this team do,” Wright said postgame. “And I knew that once we made that fourth-down stop, I was like, we’re about to win. You guys should see the confidence that we have on the sideline. Everyone was just so positive and optimistic and we knew, even when it was fourth-and-10, it was like, we’re going to find a way. We just have to believe as a team, if we have Russell at quarterback, anything is possible. His Hall of Fame career, he just keeps adding to it. I love him as a teammate, I love him as a man and it’s just special that he keeps doing that.”
It was a win, but not a pretty one.
The Seahawks allowed 201 rushing yards, which is the most they’ve surrendered since Week 13 of last season (also a game against the Vikings). Alexander Mattison, who took over for Cook, accounted for 80 in the fourth quarter alone. But just as they did in Week 2, the defense managed an incredible – and admittedly surprising – stop.
“Who would have thunk it?” Carroll said postgame. “We didn’t play things as clearly as we need to. They were running plays that we had practiced and all that, but we got blocked. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fit them up right. We’re usually really good at that stuff, and then tonight we had some problems, and some issues.”
Weirdly enough, it’s not even the first time the Seahawks won a game without converting a single third down; they beat the Arizona Cardinals 20-17 in September 2018 while going 0 for 10 on third down.
But once again, the Seahawks proved they can find a way to win when not playing their best football. And considering the tough stretch of opponents that will face them over a stretch after their upcoming bye week, that uncanny ability to bounce back – to do something surprising, and unlikely, and often a little weird – is going to come in handy.